Profections are one of the oldest, most important, and easiest of the ancient predictive techniques. In this series, we will explore profections and how to combine them with other predictive techniques.
Activating the Natal Chart and Transits
Many people are familiar with transits. Transits compare the celestial configuration of one time, such as the planetary positions now, with the configuration at another time, such as the planetary positions in your birth chart. Transits are by far the most common predictive technique used today. However, in traditional astrology, they were viewed as rather superficial and insignificant in themselves. They gained significance when they involved planets that in some way were activated during that period.
Planets become activated by being Time Lords. No, these are not the type of Time Lords that fly around the universe in a telephone booth. Time Lords are planets that by some predictice technique become highlighted and gain a greater bearing or influence over a certain period of time. Prediction starts with a proper understanding of the birth chart. These activations time show when things signified in the natal chart are most likely to come to pass.
Time Lords in Vettius Valens
While Time Lord systems are largely absent in modern astrology, they were the mainstay of ancient predictive astrology, and they continue to be a popular feature of Indian astrology today. In Hellenistic astrology, there were many types of Time Lord systems and they were discussed by many different astrologers. In fact, there are still unexplored Time Lord systems which are exclusive to the gigantic Anthology (click for free translation) by Vettius Valens (2nd century CE). Valens was a traveling astrologer who picked up techniques from many different astrologers in his time. The bulk of his huge Anthology is devoted to natal predictive techniques of all sorts, which astrologers are still exploring, testing, and coming to understand.
Shining a Spotlight
While most Time Lord systems that will be discussed on this blog were introduced during the Hellenistic period (and most are reported from Valens), there are also some Time Lord systems that were introduced by the Persians, such as the Firdaria system. In any Time Lord system, the emphasis is on activation of the natal chart. Some astrologers may take a cookbook approach to Time Lords (such as on the linked Firdaria site) but the real value of these Time Lords is that they “turn on” or “potentiate” certain significations of the planets in the birth chart. Also, there are Time Lord techniques that activate signs, places, and particular configurations of the chart. Transits and other predictive techniques, such as solar and lunar revolutions (i.e. returns), become more focused and clearer through the use of Time Lord techniques.
While there are other important Time Lord techniques, I find profections to be one of the most valuable and the easiest to use. Profections are a good first and foundational predictive technique to learn. After learning profections, one can get into other Time Lords and predictive techniques. Ultimately, we want to consider how techniques can be prioritized and integrated into one’s own particular predictive system.
Hellenistic and Persian Astrologers on Profections
There are few Time Lord systems, or even predictive techniques, more ubiquitous and universal in Hellenistic and Persian astrology than profections. It is truly one of the most vital predictive methods of ancient astrology, and was discussed much more frequently than transits.
Some of the Hellenistic astrologers that used this technique (which is nearly all of them) included Marcus Manilius and Dorotheus of Sidon of the 1st century CE, Vettius Valens and Claudius Ptolemy of the 2nd century, Paulus Alexandrinus and Julius Firmicus Maternus of the 4th century, Hephastio of Thebes of the 5th century. Persian and Arabic astrologers who used profections include Masha’allah ibn Athari and ‘Umar al-Tabari of the 8th century, Sahl ibn Bishr, Abu ‘Ali al-Khayyat, and Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi of the 9th century, and al-Qabisi of the 10th century.
Paulus Alexandrinus on Profections
Paulus gave one of the clearer expositions of the basic technique (Ch. 31, from Greenbaum trans., 2001, p. 65, bracketed passages added by me for clarification):
As many years as the nativity should spin out, we pass these through from the hour-marking zōidion [sign], giving the first year of engendered time to the Hōroskopos [ascending sign] and the second to the post-ascension of the Hōroskopos [2nd place], and so on for the rest in the following zōidia [signs], until the 12th number should be completed.
Dorotheus on Profections
Dorotheus begins Book IV of his work with a thorough analysis of the lord of the year as revealed by the annual profection.
When a native is born, the lord of the year is the lord of the house [ascendent] in which the native was born. Thus count from the ascendent a year for each sign until you reach the year which you desire; the lord of that house is the lord of the year. Look at the lord of this sign, whether it is a benefic or a malefic, and in the base-nativity how its position was and in which foundation it was. From the base-nativity is known what is concerning him [the native] at the beginning of the year, and the beginning of the year is always when the Sun enters the beginning of the minute in which it was on the day of the native’s nativity. (Dorotheus, Book IV, Ch. 1, 1-4, Pingree trans., 2005, p. 245)
He goes on to discuss how to analyze the lord of the year and how to use it to aid in analysis of the solar return chart.
Basic Technique: Annual Profections of the Ascendant
The two quotes above illustrate the annual profections, which is the most basic and most important form of profections. This is an annual shift from one sign to the next for each year of life, beginning with the rising sign. Paulus goes on to give examples, of how the profection each year comes to the next sign or place of the chart, and the ruler of that place becomes the “lord of the year”. The technique is easy and requires no fancy computer software, as there are no specific degrees involved, but rather just discrete hops from one place in the chart to the next at intervals of time. In fact, the technique is called a “circumambulation”, meaning “a walk around” the chart.
Practice Finding the Annual Profection and Lord of the Year
To illustrate, if someone was born with Pisces rising, then Pisces is the 1st Place or House, and Jupiter is the Lord of the Year for their first year of life (age 0). On the solar return (the moment the Sun returns to its natal position, typically near the birthday), at age 1, the Ascendant profects to the 2nd Place. As Pisces was rising, the 2nd Place is Aries. Its ruler, Mars, becomes Lord of the Year. It continues like this, from one place to the next on the solar return/birthday, until the start of their 13th year, which is the 12th birthday, at which point we return back to Place 1, Pisces, with Jupiter as the Lord of the Year again.
Finding the Place of the Profection from Multiples
Let’s say someone has Leo rising. In this case, ages 0, 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, and so forth (multiple of 12) are 1st Place/Leo years with the Sun as Lord. Ages 1, 13, 25, 37, 49, 61, 73, 85, 97, and so forth are 2nd Place/Virgo years with Mercury as Lord. Where will the Ascendant profect when they are 18 years old? 18 years old is their 19th year, so take the remainder of 19/12, which is 7. The Place of that year is the 7th Place, Aquarius, with Saturn as Lord. What about at age 44? 44 is the 45th year, so take 45/12 which leaves a remainder of 9, so it is a 9th Place/Aries/Mars year. If there is no remainder when you divide by 12, then you’re dealing with the 12th place.
Another way to find profections is to simply use the age itself and count forward or backwards from a multiple of 12, as all multiples of 12 will be the 1st Place. So if you are looking at age 25, then you know this is one year past 24. 24 is the 1st Place, so 25 will be the 2nd Place. If it is age 35, then this is one year back from 36, so it will be the 12th place.
Take a number of charts and simply try finding the place of the current profected Ascendant for all of them. Practice until you can do this quickly in your head knowing nothing more than the person’s rising sign and age.
Usage of Annual Profection of the Ascendant
Ascendant as Self
The annual profection of the Ascendant is interesting from a symbolic viewpoint. First, the sky is sometimes generally conceptualized as the soul or mind, while the earth is conceptualized as the body. The Ascendant is the point where the sky appears to stream up from the earth at the eastern horizon, like a soul peering out through a body. The Ascendant, and the rising sign in general, are representative of the self, or the locus of the actual physical discrete person in the horoscope.
Profection of Ascendant as Movement of Self into Houses
As the Ascendant profects to the next house of the chart, it is as if the person pays a visit to a new house each year. The indications of that house thus become awakened in the life. While the Lord of the Year is given a lot of attention, in some ways the planets in the sign itself are even more important, being directly encountered during this visit, while the lord of the chart particularly presides over and takes responsibility for the affairs.
Analyze the House of the Year and the Lord of the Year
Paulus on the Lord of the Year (Ch. 31, from Greenbaum trans., 2001, p. 65):
[…] falls to Virgo. Hermes is the lord of the year. We examine the [star] of Hermes, how it lies in the nativity, and which of the stars make a baleful aspect to it, and which look ahead at the zōidion where the year has chanced to be, and which were configured with it in the nativity.
The Foundational Type of Profection
There are profections for months also, and days, as well as other types of profections of planets. All of them follow the same principle of moving something into a new house at each new time interval. We will look at these in future articles. However, the annual profection of the Ascendant has a particularly special significance. Not only does it establish a main “lord of the year”, and highlight a sign and place, but it is also incorporated strongly into other predictive techniques. Many astrologers paid special attention to the sign of the profected Ascendant and its lord in the solar return chart. Additionally, transits are more important when they involve the lord of the year, and/or the sign of the profected Ascendant.
Example of Transits with Profections
To simplify, I’m going to give an example of using profections to highlight important transits, as this will be the easiest way for the beginner to start working with profections. However, I caution against trying to predict on the basis of an annual profection and transits alone. There are many other factors, and in time we will explore them and learn how they fit together.
It can be difficult to find examples which involve just transits with the annual profection, but I know of one particularly striking one in which the transits and profections speak volumes. I am going to look at some additional predictive techniques as well because they further highlight the key areas of the chart. Let’s take a look at it.
James Randi Publicly Announces Cancer Diagnosis
[Note: this section corrected 6/27/12 using input from reader, Erna]
I’ve addressed Randi’s chart before in terms of belief, so I won’t do much analysis here. Suffice it to say, I admire the guy. I think the chart info that he has provided for himself is honest and accurate, as his chart has a lot to say.
Focus on Mars and Saturn
In this case, we’ll be looking at the malefics in Randi’s chart, Mars and Saturn. Mars is the ruler of the 6th of disease, and is in the 12th of loss, oppression, and hidden enmies. Both the 6th and 12th are largely regarded as the worst of the bad places in ancient astrology. Therefore, malefics in these places have the capacity to signify quite difficult matters when activated. Saturn is the out of sect malefic in Randi’s chart, and as such tends to signify in a way that is both difficult and can be challenging to Randi’s self and purpose.
Randi was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in mid-2009. It looks to have been successfully treated, but it was certainly a difficult period.
9th Place, Aquarius, Saturn Year
James Randi was born in August of 1928, so when he was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in June of 2009, as well as when he announced that cancer treatment was underway on or about July 9, 2009, at the Amazing Meeting that year, he was 80 years old. Age 84 would be a 1st place year, so age 80 would be back 4 places at the 9th place, Aquarius, with Saturn as Lord of the Year.
Saturn in the Natal Chart
Saturn would be regarded as the more difficult of the malefics because Randi was born at night and Saturn is loyal to those born during the day. Saturn’s ability to signify difficulty is also shown by its position in the sometimes antagonistic 7th house and the location of Saturn’s twelfth-part in the 12th house which is a dark place called bad spirit as it was particularly associated with problems (especially mental/social ones shown by the word “spirit”).
Side Note: Using Valens-style profections (which we haven’t yet explained), in which the planets are also profected, Saturn profects 9 places to the 3rd house, where the Sun and Mercury are located. Saturn to the Sun is particularly symbolic of health issues, as the Sun is symbolic of vitality and Saturn of loss and restriction. Saturn’s profection to the ruler of the Ascendant (Mercury) has some similar significations as the Ascendant is symbolic of the body and self.
Lord of the Year in Solar Return
Looking at the solar return for that year (above) which was in August of 2008, we find that the Ascendant was 17 Virgo, with both Saturn and Mars (with Venus) in the rising sign (which is the 4th house of the natal). At the time of Randi’s cancer announcement transiting Saturn was also at 17 Virgo afflicting the solar return Ascendant (see Saturn in outer wheel of chart below).
Mars Transits the Twelfth-Part of the Lord of the Year
As mentioned, Mars is a malefic, in a bad place, and Mars also dominates Mercury, ruler of the Ascendant. In June and the first half of July, 2009, Mars was transiting through Taurus, Randi’s 12th place, where Mars is also located natally. The twelfth-part of Saturn, lord of the year, is also located there.
An Announcement on a Mars Return
Fascinatingly, James Randi publicly announced the cancer during his exact Mars return. The Mars return occurs about every 2 years due to the apparent speed of Mars through the zodiac (which is about half a degree per day), so this is not an event that happens every day or often. Not only did the return of Mars coincide with the announcement but Mars was most likely in the exact same degree of the zodiac that Mars held at birth when the announcement took place, a degree it would occupy that year for only those first couple days of the July 2009 Amazing Meeting. The last time Mars returned to that degree (i.e. his last Mars return) had been in August 2007, and the next Mars return was not until June of 2011.
I’ve provided the transit chart (relative to natal) so that you can confirm the positions of the planets. Look particularly at Mars on the day of the Amazing Meeting during which Randi publicly announces his cancer diagnosis. The natal chart is inside with transits around the edge. The Mars return is highlighted for better visual understanding.
Recap of Key Natal Factors
It was a Saturn year for Randi. Saturn is a planet that is able to signify the most difficult circumstances in Randi’s life. Saturn has its twelfth-part position with Mars in the natal 12th house. Mars is the other planet of the chart that signifies difficulties and is in the 12th house of the natal chart which is a difficult house. Mars rules the 6th house which pertains to health, so it is strongly symbolic of health problems.
Recap of Key Predictive Factors
As noted, Saturn, was lord of the year. The combined influence of Saturn and Mars was highlighted in the solar return, which featured both planets in the rising sign, symbolic of the self and body. At the time of the events, Saturn transited in the very degree of the solar return Ascendant, while Mars returned to its natal position in a difficult house (Mars return).
This example brought in other techniques besides just basic annual profections. We looked at twelfth-part positions in the natal chart, solar returnes, transits, and even Valen-style profections. This illustrates how annual profections form the backdrop to other predictive techniques and structure their meaning.
Use annual profections of the Ascendant to recognize periods when natal significations will be more active. However, we don’t experience the same fate at age 12, as at age 24, and at 36, etc. Paying particular attention to transits from and to the Lord of the Year, and through the place. Predictive factors should be considered with the natal significations. Profections highlight the natal and predictive factors that are most relevant for the year.
I would like to add that profections are thought of as a handing off of responsibility. A new planet takes responsibility for your well-being, as you, the Ascendant, enter into the planet’s house. As we look at the Lord of the Month in the next post, you’ll see the same thing for a monthly period.
If you’re new to profections, then I hope this post has been informative. Have fun with this great, simple, and effective technique that was a staple of the ancient astrologer’s repertoire.
Alexandrinus, P., & Olympiodorus. (2001). Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olypiodorus. (D. G. Greenbaum, Trans.). Reston, VA: Arhat.
Dorotheus of Sidon. (2005). Carmen Astrologicum. (D. Pingree, Trans.). Abingdon, MD: Astrology Center of America.
James Randi. (2011, November 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:29, December 3, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=James_Randi&oldid=462839271